Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Case Study 1: Scenario Making

  The first thing I must do in terms what the game needs, is design several set scenarios. Staring at tons of maps of the Battle of Sedan for some reason has not made any sense to me as to where to place the opening positions of the present forces. Reading passages from the battle, one can see that the Prussians literally had a whole day to encircle the French, while the French did absolutely nothing.

The mean lean two army Prussian fighting machine. These two armies are organized for efficiency as you'll notice there are about 2 divisions to a corps.
  There is a good reason that the French did nothing, and were in Sedan in the first place, exhaustion. The troops loudly complained about lack of food and the constant marching. There was a very strong chance of mutiny unless the army could be rested.

The french army is large and blubbering, their corps are very packed with units resulting in a inferior scaling of their initiative capabilities.

  This still put the French in a tough position. The French had been cut off from Metz at the battle of Beaumont so there was no hope of joining up with that army. In addition, supplies were coming from the west, so Sedan seemed like a natural place to rest the troops. There were several fairly defensible position, but Sedan ultimately had too many open approaches outside of the city which allowed the fresh Prussian to completely encircle the French.

Image from Black Powder games. This map shows the positions of the day of the battle sometime between the afternoon of August 31st to the morning of September 1st.

  This produces a conundrum in terms of game design. To do an approach to this battle, it would require basically the french player to do nothing for a bunch of turns while the Prussian player completely encircles them. Here is my proposed solution:

1. All of the French leaders are "asleep." Meaning none of them can do anything until they roll a 1 on their turn. This is done to simulate the exhaustion of the French troops and the commander's reluctance to stretch them any further.

2. A sleep marker is placed on all the french commanders indicating none of their formations can do anything till they make this roll.

Self explanatory.
  I would be very interested to hear what would happen if this was playtested. The German objective should be to completely encircle the french army and cause heavy casualties, while the French when activated should attempt to stage a fighting retreat towards Mezieres.

A. Start the game at Noon of August 31st (remember, each turn is an hour) The french army should be encamped in the positions shown above spread out in brigades. Exchange De Failly for Wimpffen on the map. I was mistaken as Wimpffen apparently replaced De Failly shortly before the battle so figure De Failly will be exchanged for Wimpffen in future versions of the game. (If anyone can point out any more errors in the order of battle, i would appreciate it, this is a stupid one I missed) 

B. The Prussians 2 armies should enter corps by corps from all the way on the east of the map. Prussians can write 2 march orders to start and of course enter in road march. The 4th army enters from the northeast while the 3rd army enters from the east. The Prussians all enter as divisions.

C. Ignore supply for now as there are no reliable supply counters or rail lines on the board. If you feel you can manage it, great. I was able to do so with an overlay.

D. Night turns start at 9PM  till 11PM

E. Weather rolls are 1-3 Fair, 4  Fog, 5, Rain, 6 Thunderstorm.

F. Please feel free to put your own input into Demoralization numbers. Figure that a different corps gets demoralized for every 4-8 SP the total army loses, with the guards becoming demoralized last.

Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to hearing about your games.


  1. Ray, a question as I know less about this battle than others: when and where were the first actual shots fired in anger and by which units? I am thinking there was a moment, the moment of engagement, such as when Archer/Davis deployed in front of Buford at Gettysburg.

  2. possibly, here. like i said its a bit of a tough nut to crack but it seems von der tan is out and about at the earliest.

    It was still dark at 4 a.m., when the Bavarians began to cross the Meuse, using both the railway bridge seized the day before and also the first of the two pontoon bridges that had been thrown across the river a little upstream. They moved swiftly up the road in an attempt to take the defenders of Bazeilles by surprise. Bazeilles, however, was going to be quite a tough nut to crack. The brigade of Martin des Palliéres (whose commander had been wounded the previous day) which initially formed the village's garrison was composed, like the rest of Vassoigne's 3rd Division of the 12th Corps, of Marine regiments who were to prove brave and capable opponents for the Bavarians. They had moved into the village the night before and had spent the time preparing it for a stout defence.

    Barry, Quintin (2010-06-19). Franco-Prussian War: The Campaign of Sedan, Volume 1: Helmuth von Moltke and the Overthrow of the Second Empire (Kindle Locations 4460-4465). Casemate Publishers. Kindle Edition.